22 February 2008

Only in Oz (8) Roger Roger & his Champs Elysées Orchestra - Dalilia

Another in my series of posts about tracks that charted in Australia but not in their countries of origin.

8. Roger Roger & his Champs Elysées Orchestra - Dalilia
(Roger Roger)
Festival single (Australia) #FK-296 (1962); re-released on FK-1680 (1967)

Australian charts (1962): #8 Sydney #8 Melbourne #16 Brisbane

This spaced-out electronic instrumental was familiar in Australia during the 60s as radio filler and as background music on radio and TV. [Listen] I mentioned it in an earlier post as a likely Time-out Instrumental.

Roger Roger (1911-1995) was a prolific French composer for radio, TV and film whose music is often filed these days under Space Age and Library.

Dalilia seems to have started out as a "library" track, a ready-made theme or soundtrack piece, one of numerous tracks Roger Roger composed and recorded for the Chappell Music company's Mood Music series from the mid-50s.

At the time such albums of "stock music" or "background music" were sold to radio and TV stations and film producers, but they are now collected by aficionados of Library Music. Chappell's albums were issued under the label Chappell's Recorded Music Library, established in 1941, so the term "library" has a long history in this context. 

Library Music later became available to the general public through reissues on CD. See, for example, this catalogue from MovieGrooves [archived], which included a Roger Roger collection (Roger Roger is to Library Music what James Bond is to spy movies...). 

[Update, 2020: A lot of library music is now easily accessed on music streaming services. Try, for example, this Spotify playlist of over 1700 tracks from KPM Music.]

Some of Roger Roger's music (SpaceAgePop.com tells us) also fits into a further sub-genre, Test Card, since his work was often heard with test patterns on BBC-TV.

It's possible that the 1962 release of Dalilia as a single was an Australian initiative. The B-side is Cha Cha Charlie, an instrumental by Mel Young, another Chappell library artist.

A US release of the same composition has an altered title, Delilah (1963 on Time). It is either a fresh recording or a remix, with an introduction and some slightly different instrumentation in places [YouTube].

Festival released the single twice, first in December 1962 on #FK-296, when it charted, and again in March 1967 on #FK-1680, again coupled with Mel Young. As I've pointed out previously, one thing Australians loved back then was an instrumental.

The Dalilia tune was used in 1963 for the British TV show The Desperate People, when it was known as The Desperadoes (Theme from Desperate People). Each title is registered to Roger Roger as a separate work at ASCAP, but they do appear to be the same composition. In Australia, The Playboys released a version as Desperado (1965; YouTube).

And the title, Dalilia? The only title resembling Dalilia amongst the hundreds of Roger Roger compositions registered at SACEM (France) is Dalila, the French form of Delilah (the US title). The title Dalilia is, however, registered to Roger Roger at ASCAP, but so is Delila (another form of Delilah/Dalila). I'm wondering whether Dalilia might be an Anglo misprint for Dalila (Delilah).

Click to listen:
Roger Roger & his Champs Elysées Orchestra - Dalilia.mp3

Chart positions from Gavin Ryan's Australian chart books.

References: 1. Roger Roger page at SpaceAgePop.com 2. Roger Roger biography at Robert Farnon Society 3. Roger Roger article at French Wikipedia.
4. ASCAP Title Search 5. The Australian Festival Record Company... 1961-1969, label discography by George Crotty 6. Library Music catalogue and Roger Roger blurb from MovieGrooves.com [now defunct]. 7. Composer search at SACEM, the French performing rights organisation.


IRVING said...

It sounds like a Theremin is used on Dalilia - can any one confirm this? Thanks, irving

DoctorPepperOz said...

I used to do an electronic music show on 3RRR-FM in the early 80's called MUSIQUE FREAQUE - probably the most unpopular show in the history of the station I would assume from the number of abusive phone calls I received! I used to use DALILA as my under theme opening, during and closing the show. A few people did like it.It certainly is a Theremin.

Anonymous said...

Some sources say it was an Ondes Martenot - but sounds more like a Theremin to me!

Lyn Nuttall said...

I've had my doubts about whether it's a theremin, but the consensus seems to be against me!

Ondes Martenot was new to me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondes_Martenot

Wayne Kitchener said...

I know I am late to this conversation, but further info. The original recording is called Dalila, and released through Chappell in France. I have this recording in my collection. The length is substantially longer at 3.06. The single released in Australia as Delilia, and in the UK as The Desperadoes is timed at 2.16. This version is an edit of Dalila. According to my research over the years, the instrument is a Theramin. He used this instrument on other tracks in his body of work, which was very substantial. Dalila has not been released on CD to (2020) It was available on a Chappell LP back in the 80's.


Lyn Nuttall said...

Not too late! Thanks very much Wayne, that's good info and I'll try to use it accurately in a further update. I think you might've clarified some parts that were unclear to me. And yes, it must be a theramin. - Lyn

Lyn Nuttall said...

Theremin with a second 'e', my spelling error.